Find out the latest from the world of Learn to Uke – lessons, workshops & more!

Brush Up Your Performance with our Ukulele Summer School

I am so excited about our upcoming workshops that I had to write about it so you can see them all in one place. For every Tuesday in June I’ve brought specialists in their field to help you hone various ukulele related skills. Without further ado, here’s the list:

Tuesday 20 June – Write a song and perform it on stage with Tricity Vogue
Learn the art of songwriting by writing a song together – and then perform it at Ukelele Cabaret with Tricity Vogue. We’ll use well-tried tricks and techniques to pick a theme, choose a style, shape the chords and melody, and create a catchy tune with a singalong chorus.
Book here

Tuesday 27 June – Prepare For Your Open Mic with Lord Hicks
Whether you’ve played at a few open mic nights or you like the idea of it but have yet to dip your toe in, this workshop will help you consider your performance and bring your A-game with Lord Hicks.
Book here

Tuesday 11 July – Make A Music Video with Low-Key Ukulele
If you’ve always fancied covering your favourite song or recording your own original material and uploading it to YouTube, but want to be a bit more creative, this workshop will get you started.
Book here

Tuesday 6 June – Develop Your Musical Ear with Robin Brown
If you’ve always wanted to know how to work out what chords are being played in a song or what the strumming pattern is, these two workshops will help you to do exactly that.

This event has passed.

Please do something nice for others this Christmas…

Hey there,

Christmas isn’t great for everyone. For those who can’t afford it or are homeless, Christmas can be stressful, lonely and freezing cold. Many people die due to that coldness. It’s something that I think about every year, which is why I tend to do or organise things for Crisis. The Royal George last week raised £37. Crisis ask for £23 to feed, clothe and bathe a person each day, so I’m hoping we can raise a bit more than that between us. :) I distribute the songs and set up/organise the jam nights for free, but I would ask that if you’ve had any benefit from anything I’ve done this year, would you do one of the following 3 things?

  1. Donate an old ukulele? I’m going into a homeless centre on 28 December, as I’ve been asked to either teach a session (if we raise enough cash to give the guests a ukulele each) and/or run a singalong to provide entertainment for the guests at the shelter. You are welcome to join me (see number 3). If you want to donate an old uke, I’ll be at Mercato Metropolinato on 14 December, and Tamesis Dock on 21 December leading Ukulele Wednesdays Christmas parties. All donations gratefully received.
  2. Donate money to the ukulele fund to buy ukuleles for the homeless (all money donated here will buy ukuleles for the homeless) £22.99 will buy a decent new uke. If you would rather your money went to food rather than ukuleles you can donate money or food to Southwark Food Bank.
  3. Volunteer your time. I’m going to run a lesson (if we get enough money to buy ukuleles) or a singalong. Email me to find out how to join me on 28 December.

Here’s the Ukulele Wednesdays Christmas Songbook 2016 to reward your kindness. :)

Hope you have a brilliant Christmas. :)

Lorraine x

How do I transpose a song?

And why would I want to transpose a song?

Transposition/transposing/changing the key of a song is handy if a song sits in a key that isn’t very friendly to your voice. So, if you are finding yourself either at the uppermost or the lowermost parts of your voice, like this you might find it useful and more pleasant on the ear to transpose the song. For example, Johnny Cash’s song, Hurt is in A minor (Am) which sounds amazing when it was sung by Johnny Cash and his beautifully strong low register. It’s a bit of a stretch for me to get those low notes, though, so I tried it in a few different keys to enable myself to sing all of the notes in the song. Have a listen to that here:

As you can probably hear, it’s a massive struggle in Am. It’s not much better when it’s been moved up a third to C#m or a 4th to Dm but at least the notes are achieved for the lyrics to ‘the only thing that’s real’.

If you’ve had the same trouble with any song at all, it’s well worth transposing it to suit your voice. If you print, cut out and put a pin fastener through this Key Transposing Wheel, with Instructions you’ll see that you can move a song to any key. Bear in mind that if the chord is a minor chord or a seventh chord in the original, it’ll need to stay as a minor or a seventh chord in the transposed song.

Thank you to Cathy’s Chords for the transposition wheel.

Re-Wire Your Brain with Musical Learning

If you want to enhance your memory functions, and give your brain an all-over workout, you should come to us for lessons and practice your ukulele regularly.

Don’t take our word for it. Look at what the neuroscientists have to say:

This information is taken from a brilliant Ted Ed original:
How playing an instrument benefits your brain – Anita Collins
When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. What’s going on? Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians’ brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of this mental workout.

Did you know that every time a musician picks up their instrument, there are fireworks going off all over their brain? On the outside they may look calm and focussed, reading the music and making the precise and practiced movements required, but inside their brain, there’s a party going on.
How do we know this?

Well, in the last few decades, neuroscientists have made enormous breakthroughs in understanding how our brains work by monitoring them in real time, with instruments like FMRI and PET scanners. When people are hooked up to these machines, tasks such as reading or doing math problems, each have corresponding areas of the brain where activity can be observed. But when researchers got the participants to listen to music, they saw fireworks. Multiple areas of their brains were lighting up at once as they processed the sound, took it apart to understand elements like melody and rhythm, and then put it all back together to make into a unified musical experience. And our brains do all this work in the split second between when we first hear the music and when our foot starts to tap along. But when science turned from observing the brains of music listeners, to those of musicians, the little backyard fireworks became a jubilee. It turns out that while listening to music engages the brain in some pretty interesting activities, playing music is the brain’s equivalent of a full body workout. The neuroscientists saw multiple areas of the brain light up, simultaneously processing different information in intricate, interrelated and astonishingly fast sequences. But what is it about making music that sets the brain alight? The research is still fairly new but neuroscientists have a pretty good idea. Playing a musical instrument engages practically every area of the brain at once. Especially the visual, auditory and motor cortises. As with any other workout, disciplined structured practice in playing music strengthens those brain functions, allowing us to apply that strength to other activities. The most obvious difference between listening to music and playing it, is that the latter requires fine motor skills, which are controlled in both hemispheres of the brain. It also combines the linguistic and mathematical precision in which the left hemisphere is involved with the novel and creative content that the right excells in. For these reasons, playing music has been found to increase the volume and activity in the brain’s corpus callosum, the bridge between the two hemispheres, allowing messages to get across the brain faster and through more diverse routes. This may allow musicians to solve problems more creatively in both academic and social settings. Because making music crafting and understanding it’s emotional content and message, musicians often have higher levels of executive function. A category of interlinked tasks that includes planning, strategising and attention to detail, and requires simultaneous analysis of both cognitive and emotional aspects. This ability also has an impact on how our memory systems work. And indeed musicians exhibit enhanced memory functions. Creating, storing and retrieving memories more quickly and efficiently. Studies have found that musicians appear to use their highly connected brains to give each memory multiple tags, such as a conceptual tag, an emotional tag an audio tag and a contextual tag, like a good internet search engine. So how do we know that all these benefits are unique to music, as opposed to, say, sports or painting. Or could it be that people who go into music are already smarter to begin with? Neuroscientists have explored these issues. So far they have found that the artistic and aesthetic aspects of learning to play a musical instrument are different from any other activity study, including other arts, and several randomised studies of participants, who show the same level of cognitive and neural processing at the start, found that those exposed to a period of music learning showed enhancement in multiple brain areas, compared to the others. This recent research about the mental benefits of playing music has advanced our understanding of mental function, revealing the inner rhythms and complex interplay that make up the amazing orchestra of our brain Source

Live in London? Want to play/improve your ukulele playing? See what we can offer you here.